Unprecedented power is now in the hands of the newly emergent global conglomerate retailers and suppliers. And with that comes the urge to use this power by placing unilateral demands.

A unilateral demand generates tensions. The reaction to it is emotional - fear, frustration at failing to achieve objectives collaboratively, and anger at being persecuted.

However, a skilled negotiator is able to separate emotion from behaviour. How can we manage the discomfort and achieve the best possible end result for ourselves?

Firstly, the attack is not personal. This tactic is deliberate and likely to be made elsewhere as well. It has been meticulously planned. It is there to create a reaction. See it for what it is: a tactic. And like all tactics the best response should be considered and objective. Perhaps revisit the business ethics previously agreed.

Second, competitiveness breeds competitiveness. Our natural instinct is to either reject the demand outright to demonstrate our strength or to capitulate instantly. Using ransoms rather than sanctions provides a way through the issue. Every problem is an opportunity. Ask yourself, 'under what circumstances could we accept this demand?' If you were to get more marketing support or get a new range listed, then you could could go some way to meeting it. When you calculate the finances, is it really as bad as thought at first?

Third, power is an intangible concept. Bargaining power is purely a perception. What is more useful to you is a deep understanding of the other party's cost structure, time pressures, circumstances and commercial strategy. That will help you see where demands come from and what their purpose is.

Questioning and listening are key. Listen for the real meaning behind the words. And think about how to give yourself more power. Use time pressures. Make proposals that build dependency. This dependency will help to create trust.

Finally, test some assumptions around the demand. Is there just cause for it? Can you afford to accommodate it? If not, can you find a concession that will make it acceptable? If not, then you may need to simply reject it. This is a better alternative than agreeing to something you spend the next three years trying to recover from or back out of.

If you respond by giving value, this may be viewed and valued far more than what is agreed: generosity engenders greed and is certainly not contagious. Sometimes deals have to be rejected in order to give yourself more power next time.